Produced using plastics and metals, today’s store-bought kitchen scourers can be notoriously bad for the environment. But by repurposing everyday household waste, you can very easily make your own
One of the most important things to keep us healthy in both body and mind is sleep. But as we strive to juggle families, work and living clean and sustainable lives, the amount of sleep we get is easy to neglect and its quality is often the first thing to suffer.
Sweet and juicy, dried and ground, grilled, boiled or popped, it’s easy to understand why corn is a favourite all-round staple. Fresh, frozen, ground into flour or made into porridge, polenta and tortillas. Hugely versatile, you can snack on corn raw, feed it to livestock, turn it into syrup, even convert it into ethanol. Originating in Mexico and spreading rapidly through the Americas, the humble grain has established itself as an essential in gardens and kitchens all around the world.
The Irish strawberry tree (Arbutus Unedo) is named for the plant’s prevalence in Ireland, although it grows across much of Europe, and the resemblance of its fruit to (you guessed it) strawberries. A member of the heath family, along with blueberries, the Irish strawberry tree has been culturally and historically important in many European growing regions.
Steeking may not only revolutionise the way you knit, but it also offers a great way to upcycle or reconstruct knitted garments, tailor them to your needs, and save them from landfill or eternal damnation in your darning pile.
The green clean movement is big business these days, with microfibre ‘wonder’ cloths (often made of plastic and biocidal silver) peddled as an eco-solution to harmful cleaning chemicals while requiring virtually no effort.
It’s apple season again! Apples eaten in season and fresh are definitely the best for flavour, crunch and vitality. If you have a healthy apple tree at home, you may well be wondering what to do with them all. Never fear, there are lots of ways to use up your apple harvest and preserve the excess.
Broad beans (Vicia faba) are prized as much for their fleshy beans as they are for their potential use as a nitrogen-fixing cover crop. This ancient food of early Mediterranean civilisations is still widely cultivated across the world today. Sometimes known as ‘fava beans’ (fava from the Latin word for bean), they’re a popular staple across the Middle East and Africa, and are commonly eaten as a snack across virtually every continent.
As superfood fads go, the movement towards eating insects has a lot of hype, but is less commonly adopted. An untapped source of protein, high in amino acids, wildly abundant, easy to grow, with a tiny ecological footprint—the sales pitch sounds great to most of us until we’re presented with a dish of mealworms.
Simeon Hanscamp finished his university degree and was searching for meaningful work. He took a short business course, worked on a market garden, studied online with Curtis Stone (the urban farmer, not the celebrity chef), watched a bit of YouTube, and decided he would have a crack at setting up an urban farm.
Despite its name, buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is neither a grain nor is it related to wheat. Originating from Asia, this fast growing annual is most closely related to sorrel and rhubarb. It’s most prized for its triangular edible seeds which have a long tradition as a staple in many countries from Japan (as soba noodles) to Russia (as kasha). They are having a small revival in modern times due to the fact that buckwheat is gluten-free, despite its confusing name for wheat-avoiders.
A weed loved equally by humans and hens, Fat Hen (Chenopodium album), also known as Lamb’s Quarters, is valued for both its culinary and nutritional benefits. An inoffensive texture and flavour makes it the perfect entry level weed for novice foragers. Fat Hen can be found in most climates but grows best in temperate zones.
Despite their name, the only thing potato onions have in common with spuds is the way in which they are planted. While potato onions can be grown from seed, they are most commonly grown by sowing a bulb of the previous season’s crop, in the same way that potatoes are grown from a previous season’s tuber.
Nettle grows all over Australia, preferring partially shady spots with fertile soils. The Australian native nettle, Urtica incisa (scrub nettle), is an upright perennial found in streams and rainforests. You can find other introduced varieties everywhere, such as the annuals Urtica urens (dwarf nettle) and Urtica dioica (common nettle).
Hidden amongst the factories and warehouses of Heidelberg West, FD Ryan Toolmakers is a father and son collaboration between Matthew and James King. They specialise in hand making bespoke garden tools that are built to last. While the collaboration may be young, this fledgling business has a long history that incorporates the family’s own story over four generations.
Acorns (Quercus spp.) have long been thought of as a last resort food, but these small parcels of goodness pack quite a nutritional punch when processed the right way. Processing them is important, as acorns (like tea, chocolate and red wine) are jam-packed full of tannins. So much tannic acid in fact that they’re toxic to many livestock and even humans in their natural form. Leaching them of their tannins takes a little time and dedication. You also have to wait for trees to produce a mast crop every four or so years, though for the enthusiastic forager this can involve many enjoyable months of scouting these beautiful trees in the lead up to autumn. Patience certainly is a virtue where acorns are concerned, as they can reward you with easy to store sweet and nutty flour, and a cheap, cheerful and fattening winter feed for chooks and pigs.
In a world dominated by screens big and small, we all need a little nudge sometimes to switch off, look up and get outside. A growing body of evidence tells us that it’s imperative that children get plenty of ‘vitamin N’ (nature connection) in order to develop many essential life skills. So how can you encourage your kids to swap screen time for play time? Here are our top 10 ideas to make the great outdoors fun!
Hibi Farm is nestled on a sprawling suburban block in a quiet court in Melbourne’s not-quite-inner north. You could be forgiven for forgetting you were in the middle of postwar-built suburbia and instead had been transported back in time to the Swiss Alps, Heidi-style.
‘There’s dye in everything, really’, says artist Deborah Brearley, as she unpacks oxalis, lichens, rusty nails and an array of other gathered materials onto the kitchen bench: all ingredients for the natural dye pot. Deb has been dyeing textiles using natural pigments for more than three decades, and in the world of natural dyeing that makes her a bit of a master.
The slow movements’ gradual transformation of every facet of our lives has (unhurriedly) extended itself to the rabid international fast-fashion industry. While the idea of ‘fashion’ might seem frivolous to those of us who walk the path of permaculture, the way we clad ourselves can have a very alarming environmental impact, and one which we often overlook while we’re busy in the garden, smelling the rosemary.
In 1988 Bill Mollison stood on top of a swale at Crystal Waters Eco Village and declared: ‘Permaculturists want to be property developers’. While the job description for a property developer might conjure up images of housing market bubbles, and terribly-designed boxes squeezed onto ever-diminishing parcels of urban land, in many ways Bill was on the money. The desire for a patch of one’s own has led many a permie down the garden path of property ownership. But what if there was a way to create a living out of ethically and sustainably developing land for the future.